OTD: Toronto’s CN Tower opens to public

On today’s date in 1976, the CN Tower opened to the public in Toronto, Ont.

Designed by John Andrews International, the CN Tower was the world’s tallest free-standing structure at 553 metres and had the world’s highest public observatory until 2010, when Dubai’s Burj Khalifa officially took the honour. With 147 floors from the internal staircase between the ground and the “Skypod” – the public observation deck near the top of the tower – the tower was originally built to improve television reception.

It cost $63 million to build.

“The first disappointment comes at the main entrance,” wrote architect and Toronto alderman Colin Vaughan in the Globe and Mail following the tower’s opening in 1976.

“There’s no sensation of arriving at the base of a tall structure to be overwhelmed by the vision of the tower ahead. Instead you enter through a foyer boxed in with aluminum and glass shopping centre entrance doors. The foyer is roofed with an open truss, smeared with silver paint. Where is the tower? Who knows? … Undoubtedly the tower will draw millions of visitors who will come and gawk at the mechanical and electronic bric-a-brac and buy the CN tower – shaped rye bottles as souvenirs. But none will experience the unique sensation, the vertigo and the straight excitement which should accompany a visit to a structure of this scale.”

Despite opening to the public on June 26, 1976, the CN Tower’s official opening date was later that year on Oct. 1.

Clockwise from top centre: The CN Tower has also been featured on a 1984 silver dollar, a 2017 $1 ‘Canada 150’ coin and a privately-issued challenge coin.

CN TOWER COINS

In 2006, the Royal Canadian Mint struck a $20 Proof silver coin to mark the 30th anniversary of the tower’s opening.

The coin, which weighs 31.1 grams with a 38-millimetres diameter, features a stylized holographic design of the tower during a lightning storm. It was the second issue in the “Architectural Treasures” series, following the 2006 Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal coin.

The tower has also been celebrated in 1984 on a silver dollar; in 2017 on a $1 coin from the “Canada 150” design contest; and a variety of tokens, medals and challenge coins.

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